Friday, December 31, 2010

Peace, balance and insanity

I do a personal meditation for peace every day. But once a year I wish it in the form of a painting and pass it on. I've been doing this for a very long time - it is my most profound hope that one of these years I won't need to do it anymore.

To balance out the seriousness of this exercise, I also reflect back on the stuff I've done in the past year that I wish I hadn't. Stuff like the day I decided I could start eating corn chips again with some restraint. Or the time I jumped into the passenger side of my brother's truck and scared the hell out of two young kids in the back seat who, I realized, weren't my brother's or mine. In fact, it was not my brother's truck.

This wish forward and unwish back is my attempt to embark on the new year with a sense of purpose, balance and an honest acknowledgment of my own jolly little form of insanity.

Have a good year everyone.

Peace, Balance and Insanity • 8" x8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Friday, December 24, 2010

Decked Out

I think one of the best things about the holiday season is the way everybody and everything gets decked out - the t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and socks, the giant inflatables, red car radiator noses and matching antlers. They all inspire a smile that winds up the side of my cheeks and around my ears.

But I think the most endearing show of decked out are those little doggies you see everywhere,  festooned in their holiday paraphernalia tumbling like ornaments of infectious joy along country lanes and city streets. I think they, more than anything else I see, remind me of what really counts in this world - genuine gratitude for a decent meal, a warm safe place to sleep, the feeling of being of use, and the blessing of friends and family to love unconditionally for the rest of your life.

Have a great Christmas everyone!

Decked Out • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cold Winter Night

Wow - it has been bone-chilling cold here in Portland! I watched a deceptively beautiful white winter moon hoist its way up and over my head, dragging behind it an icy shroud of prickly, pointy crystals that blanketed the city and dropped down into my body one by one, deeper and deeper, piercing each one of my bones and creating a shudder that ran through my body like a cold steel bolt of lightning.

There, got that out of my system!

Cold Winter Night • 8" x 8" watercolor • framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Local Tree Farms

 I'm a big fan of Christmas trees. I love the colors, I love the smell, but mostly I love that I can lay down on my back under a tree right in my own home with my head close to the trunk, look up through the branches and pretend I'm the size of my thumb about to go on the climb of a lifetime. It's magical and beautiful and just about as close to being out there in the forest as you can get without being there.

I used to have an internal debate about real trees vs fake trees. I made up my mind years ago after spending one Christmas in Palm Springs, CA with my mother. She's probably about as different from me as you can get. She's a lady. We differ across the board - food, clothing, home decor, hobbies, politics, you name it. There are no two people more different. How she gave birth to me is the subject of great debate in our family. We speculate it could have been a true immaculate conception!

Anyway, her fake tree (much to my horror), was all white with white lights (that did not blink, thankfully), and gold, silver and maroon ornaments. It was perfect and looked elegant in her all white living room with her all white furniture set upon her all white carpeting. There was more white inside her home than there was outside -  a total reversal of winter here in Maine. The grass and foliage on the orange, lemon, grapefruit and palm trees outside were summer green. The surrounding mountains were brown with random spots of green. It was not the type of Christmas I was used to by a long shot - but it was my mother's dream come true.

Having broached the subject of real vs. fake with my mother taught me to keep my mouth shut. For me it was like trying to lead a horse used to drinking champagne, to water. For her it was another reason I could not possibly be her daughter. So for those of you who may still be in flux or worse in an annual debate with your mother, I have attached some info I gleaned from the Nature Conservancy.

Fake trees are usually made from a kind of plastic called polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is derived from petroleum. Also - According to the Children's Health Environmental Coalition, the manufacture of PVC creates and disperses dioxins, which include the most toxic man-made chemical known. Released into air or water, dioxins enter the food chain, where they accumulate in fatty tissues of animals and humans, a potential risk for causing cancer, damaging immune functions and impairing children's development. YIKES!  

Electricity is used to melt the plastic, and approximately 85% of the fake trees sold in the US are shipped here from China. Most of China’s electricity comes from burning coal—the dirtiest source of electricity. Once the fake trees are made, they still have to be shipped across the ocean—usually in a diesel-fuel powered ship. More emissions still. (Fake trees also sometimes release lead when they get old, which isn’t a climate impact, but still is not a great thing to have happening in your living room.)

Real trees also grow in the ground for several years before they are cut, absorbing carbon out of the atmosphere every year. The vast majority of real trees today come from Christmas tree farms—about 12,000 of which exist in the United States. On these farms each tree cut is typically replaced by a new tree or two or three, which continue removing carbon from the air.

And once Christmas is over you can use your real tree in many ways—the boughs can be cut and used as a protective covering over delicate shrubs, the tree can be chipped and composted, and there’s the ever popular New Year’s Eve bonfire (if you live in an appropriate place for bonfires). Real trees can also be used to help trap sand on beaches, preventing erosion, or sunk in ponds to provide habitat for fish and other wildlife.

Finally, having a real Christmas tree is also about supporting our local Maine economy and farmers The National Christmas Tree Association has a web site and on it a listing by state of local tree farms near you.

So there you have it. I haven't read anything in support of fake trees, but I wouldn't post it if there was anyway! 

Tree Farm • 8" x 8" watercolor • Framed to 12" x 12" • $200

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Last Bit of Fall

So I guess this is it! Maine's big white winter glacier has arrived. It hasn't hit us here in Portland yet, but will now begin it's slow and deliberate roll southeast across the state from the northwest mountains and valleys.

I love winter, I love snow, but Portland becomes a non-stop, four-month round of bumper cars. Those of us who know how to drive in snow are canceled out by the vast numbers of those who don't. And in this economy the odds of getting whacked are tenfold because heck, who can afford snow tires!

Before the games begin and the landscape becomes arctic-ish, I put the last bit of fall - the last of the rich and warm colors of Maine's fall landscape - to paper.

The Last Bit of Fall • 8" x 8" watercolor • Framed to 12" x 12" • $200